The author of SlateStarCodex is a very intelligent and well-read person who is politically and culturally on the liberal/progressive part of the American political spectrum, and he recently came out and delivered a surprising message to the other members of his political tribe: You’re Crying Wolf.
Specifically, he makes an evidence-based case that those who claim that Donald Trump is uniquely racist, a white supremacist, using dog-whistles to appeal to white identity, and so on have some serious explaining to do, because the data points to the conclusion that, if anything, he’s just a really weird dude who insults everyone who attacks him. I recommend reading the whole thing. It certainly prompted me to re-examine my views on Trump, which are generally quite negative.
While I didn’t agree with the people who said that Trump was anti-gay or anti-LGBTQIA?? or anti-transgender or anti-Semitic or openly racist, I do think that he was playing identity politics (and the author of SlateStarCodex admits this as well at the beginning of his piece as something to keep in mind).
The point on which I disagree with the author is: I do think Trump was openly courting the White supremacist voters by retweeting their messages and recruiting Stephen Bannon. Granted, he was also courting the pro-Israel voters, the LGB?? voters, the transgender voters, the Black supremacist voters, Hispanic voters, Rust Belt voters, and anyone who could vote from the grave, probably (zombie voters?). Trump was desperate for any votes because the polls generally showed him losing, first in the Republican primaries and then to Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Trump scrambled to get very single vote he could by talking at people. And because he’s Donald Trump (as we all should have noticed) he was absolutely tone-deaf and incoherent in how he went about it. He tried to appeal to Pro-Life voters by insisting that we should punish women who have abortions, which is something the Pro-Life movement has generally opposed. This is a common theme with Trump.
His appeals to Bernie Sanders voters often failed because he was absolutely tone-deaf to their other concerns and only attempted to appeal to them while only superficially understanding their concerns. He did the same thing with African-American voters, courting their votes, but doing a fairly terrible job of getting those votes because he really didn’t understand their concerns. And those who did vote for him or consider doing so because Trump was at least open about his lack of regard for their concerns, unlike the Democrats who pander to those concerns and accomplish nothing.
Is Donald Trump a white supremacist? It’s unlikely, but he’s a man who is happy to be whoever people want him to be if it’s likely to get him what he wants, so he might be when it’s convenient for him. He’s certainly not committed to an ideology of white supremacism, or any other ideology. He’s simply not a principled person of integrity, not even a person of integrity with the wrong values (like white supremacists, white nationalists, or white separatists, for example).
I don’t go around calling Trump a white supremacist, or a racist, or anti-gay, or whatever else gets thrown at him from an identity politics perspective. He’s not principled enough to wear any of those labels. But there is good evidence that he’s perfectly willing to engage in the worst kind of identity politics, including (among many other things) courting and tolerating white supremacist and otherwise racist voters and their worst behaviors.
Is it crying wolf to point out that the new shepherd wants the votes of the wolves, and the sheep, and the fox, and the hens, and the pigs, and everyone else on the Animal Farm? Maybe. But it’s not irrational to worry about it and vote against him because of it.